Gemologist, what's that?

What is a Gemologist anyway?

Gemology is a science dealing with the study of natural and artificial gemstones. It is considered a geoscience and a branch of mineralogy. A gemologist is academically trained to identify and evaluate gemstones. Although I mostly deal with white and fancy color diamonds I am trained in colored stones, pearls, jewelry design and manufacturing as well.

How did you get into the industry?

I’ve always been interested in business, science, artistry, and beautiful things. The jewelry industry marries the four brilliantly. I grew up in a culture with a lot of spending power that prized adornment. I saw many people making what I felt were terrible investments with respect to their jewelry purchases. I wanted to gain an insider perspective so that I could be the one to help people make more informed choices.

I researched the industry and decided to enroll in the GIA Graduate Gemologist program. It’s an extremely rigorous full-time program that helped me build a foundation in gemology. I also took their jewelry design courses to gain an understanding of hand rendering techniques.

After graduation I linked up with an incredible diamond house in New York’s diamond district. The group is young but experienced. They remain one of the most progressive in the industry. I felt immediately at home.

Are you going to create your own line?

I assist with the creation of jewelry every day which is a nice creative outlet. Overall it’s a collaborative process where I am working with clients, stores, other designers, and teams of talented bench jewelers. I’ve courted the idea of my own collection for many years. Right now though, i'm focused on bringing my client's ideas to life.

Who are your favorite jewelry designers?

I have many friends with jewelry lines that I love! Mania Zamani and Nicolas Liu are two talented newcomers. My absolute favorites are Hemmerle, JAR, Bhagat, Belperron, and of course the iconic houses Bulgari, David Webb, and Verdura. 

Any advice for aspiring jewelry designers?

Becoming a jewelry designer is a great way to waste a lot of money. Research your market, your stores, and your customer. You need constant industry feedback but an absolutely rock solid vision. There is so much out there. Only invest in a collection if you really feel you have something to contribute to the landscape.

What about aspiring gemologists/diamond dealers?

You have to pay your dues like anything else. I remember running all over the diamond district in NY, in the rain/the snow/the sweltering NY heat, whatever it was, to show stones, honing my negotiation skills. Many days trying to sell to people who didn’t even want to acknowledge my existence. You have to develop a thick skin. Definitely study. Look at as much as you can to train your eye. Develop an understanding of the market and pricing trends. Go to the trade shows, meet new suppliers. Be honest. This business is very old school all you have is your word and your credit. Be conservative and pay your bills on time!

Parting thoughts?

The jewelry industry is changing rapidly but there is so much that still needs to be revitalized. Whenever you have anything of great value there is space for corruption. There are so many terribly unacceptable parts of this industry. In all things we must be the change we wish to see. Dedicate yourself to ethical practices. Educate your customers. No one is going to stop buying jewelry any time soon, which is a good thing because people at all levels of the supply chain make their living in this business. Still, we can work diligently to hold the industry accountable and apply pressure from the inside.